A Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) is an animal medicines advisor registered to prescribe and supply animal medicines with appropriate advice. The Q means qualified to supply animal medicines licensed as POM-VPS and NFA-VPS.

Vets, pharmacists and SQPs are all registered qualified persons (RQP). The veterinary medicines regulations list SQPs as RQPs able to supply and prescribe from registered premises. SQPs must hold an approved qualification and register with Vetpol or another VMD approved body. A code of practice sets down the standard for approved qualifications. This qualification enables them to supply and prescribe VPS medicines. The S in VPS stands for SQP.

They may be qualified in Companion Animal (dogs, cats, small pets), Equine, Farm or Avian sectors, in any combination. We see them as champions of animal welfare and not just responsible for prescribing animal medicines.

A variety of retail outlets such as pet shops, saddlers, farm supplies, online pharmacies all employ SQPs to deal with customers. Some work in veterinary practices or for large farms. This means that they also need to be very effective communicators to help them provide the right advice and address the concerns of animal owners. The Vetpol SQP course includes training in communication skills and will help SQPs make great recommendations. That’s good news for animals, their owners and the SQP’s place of work.

“Qualifying as a SQP has given me the confidence to engage with customers, ask the right questions and give clear, accurate advice to help them make an informed choice as to which products are suitable and safe for their animals. I am proud to be a SQP

Debbie Gilbertson, SQP & Coach

Who SQPs are - Debbie Gilbertson SQP Coach

What veterinary medicine categories do SQPs supply?

Veterinary medicine categories are legal classifications that define who can prescribe or dispense the medicine. RQPs must supply veterinary medicines from registered premises. They have to comply with strict conditions to store and supply veterinary medicines. This is to protect animals, the environment and human health.

Some veterinary medicines in the UK are not available unless supplied or prescribed by a professional person. Those categories are:

Prescription Only Medicine – the “V” stands for Veterinary Surgeon and this means they may only be prescribed by a Veterinary Surgeon registered to practice in the United Kingdom.
Prescription Only Medicine – “V” stands for Veterinary Surgeon, “P” stands for Pharmacist and “S” stands for Suitably Qualified Person (SQP). These are the groups of professionals permitted to prescribe these products.
Non-Food Animal – again the “VPS” stands for Vet, Pharmacist and Suitably Qualified Person, SQP. These products are for use in non-food animals but may only be supplied by these three groups of professionals.

SQPs train to be able to supply VPS medicines and know when to refer to a Vet

The role of a SQP is to make VPS medicines available to those owners whose animals need them. SQPs are at the coal face helping customers make the right choices. They manage ordering, storage, distribution, supply and offer professional advice on health. SQPs are ambassadors for animal welfare.

To become a SQP you need to be qualified and enrol with a regulator. Vetpol offers courses leading to SQP qualification and is an approved regulator, maintaining a register of qualified SQPs.

SQPs must follow an approved Code of Practice.

Qualifying to train as a SQP

You need no formal qualifications to begin training as a SQP – it is open to all. However, to work as a SQP you will have to operate out of registered premises. This could be a pet shop, agri-merchant, vet practice or saddler that has met the criteria for a registered premises.

If you do have other qualifications in science or are accustomed to learning, you will find the SQP course easier than someone without this background. But it is not a big obstacle. We have written the course in an easy to understand format. There is no manual – everything is online, making it simple to adapt the screen to make it more accessible to fit your needs.

You can complete our online SQP training course at your own pace, so how long you take to complete it will depend on how much time you can dedicate to studying. As a very rough guide, most people will need to dedicate a total of 100 hours to study. Some people might choose to take holiday to study intensively, while others may prefer to study in evenings, weekends and during work breaks – it’s entirely up to you.

As soon as you feel you have understood and can recall your learning, you can register to sit the online exam – either at home or in your workplace, at a time that suits.

CPD for SQPs

VMD requires that registration bodies like Vetpol have a CPD system for SQPs to follow after qualification and registering SQPs. CPD means Continuing Professional Development (CPD). CPD is ongoing training and helps SQPs stay up-to-date in the ever-changing world of veterinary medicines. This process allows them to further develop skills and knowledge in animal health and welfare.

Vetpol provides a system to log the CPD record, links to help you find the right courses for you, and recognition for doing it.

Pigs on a straw bed in a shelter